The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
Bill Kenwright’s Agatha Christie Theatre Company present:
‘Witness for the Prosecution’: Agatha Christie
Belgrade Theatre: Tkts 024 7655 3055: and touring
Runs: 2h: 30m: one interval: Belgrade till 12th June 2010 and touring
Review: Jan Pick: 7.6.10
Hell hath no fury …..
The Belgrade was packed for the first night of Witness for the Prosecution, and the Agatha Christie Company did not disappoint, giving an impeccable performance of the 1953 play developed by Christie from an earlier short story.
The action moves from Barristers Chambers to Number One Court at the Old Bailey – the set change is effected with great skill in seconds – and centres on Leonard Vole, a likeable young man in trouble for befriending a lady of mature years who has been found murdered in her home shortly after one of his visits. The audience is treated almost as members of the onstage jury as the witnesses are questioned and give their evidence.
Dennis Lill and Robert Duncan turn in a lovely double act as Sir Wilfrid Robarts QC, and Mr Mayhew, both acting for the defence and perfectly sure of their clients innocence and essential good nature, and Ben Nealon is charmingly boyish and sincere as the young man in trouble, Leonard Vole. Among the women, Lisa Kay plays Romaine, Leonard’s wife, as glacially detached – almost robotic, which makes the final denouement all the more shocking, whilst Jennifer Wilson rather overdoes the Scots accent in an otherwise unblemished performance of Janet the elderly companion/housekeeper, a pillar of Scottish rectitude.
Considerable skill is shown by actors doubling roles, in particular Simon Linnell, who while nondescript as a policeman, turns in a lovely cameo as Dr Wyatt, the expert medical witness, and Caroline Oakes, who nicely differentiates between her roles of dowdy secretary, the epitome of respectability, and the other woman – a fluffy blonde.
As those in the know managed not to give the end away in the interval, an enjoyable time is had by all in this piece of predictable but enjoyable hokum!
Greta: Caroline Oakes
Carter: Michael Gabe
Mr Mayhew: Robert Duncan
Leonard Vole: Ben Nealon
Sir Wilfrid Robarts, QC: Dennis Lill
Chief Inspector Hearne: Gary Richards
Policeman: Simon Linnell
Detective: Simon Cole
Romaine Vole: Lisa Kay
Mr Myers, QC: Mark Wynter
Mr Justice Wainwright: Peter Byrne
Clerk of the Court: Michael Gabe
Foreman of the Jury: Keith Myers
Dr Wyatt: Simon Linnell
Janet McKenzie: Jennifer Wilson
Thomas Clegg: Simon Cole
The Other Woman: Caroline Oakes
Director: Joe Harmiston
Designer: Simon Scullion
Lighting Designer: Douglas Kuhrt
Sound Designer: Ian Horrocks-Taylor
Costume Designer: Brigid Guy
Company Stage Manager: Sian Wiggins
DSM: Gemma Wilks
Costume Supervisor: Tara Cole
Props Supervisor: Jemma Gardener
Head of Wardrobe: Amanda Ozdonmez
Legal Consultant: David Etherington QC